Roscommon and District League season gets underway

The coming week sees the start of the 2007/08 football season for the Roscommon and District League, with teams from the Premier Division and Division 1 in action.             On the following Sunday, August 26th, all four divisions will be in action. The new season will commence without Premier side Heatmerchants who performed well last season and avoided relegation after being promoted the previous season. Many of their players re-signed for their former club St. Peter’s from Athlone who did not field a senior side in previous seasons.             Shiven Rovers who were narrowly beaten in a play off for promotion will take their place in the Ruby Oil-sponsored Premier Division. In the Athlone Nissan-sponsored Division 1, Manor Utd. and Lough Harps will now return to this Division after a short absence. The Kilconnell-based KC Celtic are welcomed back to the league and St. John’s Athletic will have a second side in the League. Both will play in Division 3 next season.             Last season Ballinasloe Town became only the second side to win all three domestic competitions and they start their campaign next Wednesday evening away to Shiven Rovers. Trevor Dunican continues as Manager of this young Newbridge side and while they will not be expecting to win the Division, nonetheless they should do reasonably well. To get anything from Wednesday’s game would be a big boost for the side.             Castlerea Celtic finished runners-up in both the League Championship and the Challenge Cup last season and they travel to Skyvalley Rovers next Sunday. Castlerea Celtic will be at a disadvantage this season as their newly developed stadium will not be fit to play in for most of the season and they will have to use alternative venues. Skyvalley Rovers have introduced some young players into their panel and while the indications are good, nonetheless they will require some time to settle. It seems like the management team now has the courage to stick by these young players.             Ballymoe FC were very impressive last season when they were Division 1 Champions. They travel to Glenamaddy on Sunday where they play Glen Celtic. The home side always has some talented players but has a small panel to choose from. It’s going to be a big test for Ballymoe FC but they could take a point from the game.             For many years Dysart were one of the leading clubs in the Roscommon and District league and won just about every competition over the years. After a few seasons in a lower division, they make a welcome return to Premier Division this season. They have a young and determined side and most people would like to see them do well. They travel to Moore Utd. on Sunday and they should be capable of getting something from the game. Moore had a great run last season but faded at the end of the season. They will be hoping to improve on last season’s showing.             Kilkerrin Utd. were very close to lifting the Premier Division Championship for the last two seasons. They start with a home game against Cloonfad Utd. Cloonfad Utd. were the best team in the League on many occasions but struggled a little the last two seasons. No doubt they will come good again but it is unlikely to be this season. Kilkerrin Utd. should take the three points.             In the Collins Nissan Division 1, Ahascragh Utd., Ballinasloe Town, Ericsson FC and Cam Celtic look the best teams in the Division. Ballinasloe Town and Ericsson FC won promotion from division 3 to Division 1 in two seasons and will be hoping to continue their winning ways in Division 1. Cam Celtic were very impressive for long periods last season and with a bit more consistency they could return to the Premier Division next season.             Ahascragh Utd. played for the first time in the Premier Division last season and while being relegated they played really well on occasions. If they can regain some of their old form they will be hard to beat. Ahascragh Utd. travel to old rivals Ballinasloe Town on Sunday and a win here would give them a major boost for the season ahead.             Ericsson FC has a tricky game at home to Rahara Rovers. However they should take at least a point from the game. Moylough 79 were relegated last season and never really played to their full potential. They take on St. John’s Athletic at Moylough on Sunday and it will be very interesting to see how they play against a well-organised St. John’s Athletic side.             Cam Celtic play Manor Utd. at Brideswell on Sunday and while they will start favourites, everyone is well aware of  how difficult it can be to beat David Hussey’s men.             Lough Harps play Strokestown Utd. at Ballinlough on Sunday. Over the last few seasons both teams seem to have no consistency and trying to predict the winner is almost impossible. Both teams can field really good sides on occasions but have not fulfilled their real potential in recent years.             This season Roscommon and District League received sponsorship for a shield competition for last season’s Cup and League winners in each division. The four shields were kindly sponsored by McNulty Furniture, Niall Daly Block laying, Ian and Willie Collins of Donegal Milk and Declan Walsh Fruit and Veg.             Ballinasloe Town won the Premier Division Shield when they beat Castlerea Celtic 3 -1 at Ballinasloe. Dysart play Ballymoe at Dysart on Wednesday Evening at 7 pm and at the same time Manor Utd. play Ballymoe FC at Lecarrow.